By Jim Puzzanghera
October 20, 2014

Business economists reported solid but slowing growth at their companies over the summer as gauges of sales, hiring and profit margins fell slightly from the second quarter, according to survey results released Monday.

Despite concerns about economic conditions in Europe, respondents in the quarterly survey by the National Assn. for Business Economics said they were more optimistic about overall U.S. growth than they were in July.

About 85% said they expected total economic output, or gross domestic product, to expand by more than 2% over the next year. That compared with 77% who had those expectations in the last quarterly survey.

“Business conditions continued to improve during the third quarter, albeit at a marginally subdued pace from that of the second quarter, and the majority of the NABE Business Conditions Survey panelists report strong expectations for continued economic growth,” said John Silvia, chief economist for Wells Fargo Securities who serves as the organization’s president.

The findings are in line with analysts’ forecasts for solid economic growth in the third quarter, but a drop-off from the strong 4.6% annual rate in the previous quarter. Part of that robust second-quarter expansion was the economy catching up from a weather-induced contraction over the winter.

Sales growth at businesses slowed in the third quarter, with 49% reporting rising sales, compared with 57% in the previous quarter, the survey said.

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